The Rangers starlet clubs should be desperate to sign - why the future of Kai Kennedy is so intriguing
Only a few months previous, Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Roma were three of the clubs touted as possible destinations. Unlikely perhaps, but it demonstrated the potential of the 18-year-old, and how much he had impressed in the Ibrox academy.
Kennedy had entered the final 12 months of his Rangers contract and talks over a new deal were at an impasse. It seemed a permanent exit – the summer past or the summer future – was on the horizon.
After making his first-team debut nearly a year ago in a Scottish Cup clash with Stranraer, there was both an expectation and hope that he, along with Nathan Patterson, would make the step up to become regular members of Steven Gerrard’s squad this campaign.
Instead, come October he was in the Highlands playing second tier football. But it appears that the move has worked out for all parties.
Earlier this month, ICT boss John Robertson suggested that an agreement with Rangers over a new deal is in the pipeline which would have a knock-on effect for the Highlanders.
“They have told us if he signs a new deal they are quite happy for him to remain here this season,” he said recently.
“Until he does that it is up for grabs.”
As of January, clubs will be able to speak to the teenager regarding a free transfer. Rangers would stand to make a development fee if he were to leave at the end of the season but substantially less than they would if sold while under contract.
Excite, enthral, electrify
Kennedy is one of the most precocious talents in Scottish football, an “exceptional talent” as Robertson put it. The numbers in terms of goals and assists may not jump off the page, but he is one of those players who excites and enthrals those watching.
He is electrifying in full flow, two-footed and can play across the front-line, whether that is a jinking winger, inverted wide forward or No.10.
As a fan, he is the type of player you want to watch. Positive and brave, as a wide man he will look to run at opponents time and time again. He is even more dangerous with his ambidextrous qualities.
Robertson has talked about teams pinpointing him as a key threat and marking him as such. It led to a place on the bench for the game with Dunfermline during the week. ICT weren’t in the match in the first half. The first person Robertson called on was Kennedy off the bench at half-time, and he helped the team earn a draw.
Two games earlier in the campaign highlighted his danger. He was hugely influential in wins over Raith Rovers and Queen of the South. His burgeoning relationship with James Keatings was there to be seen in the latter victory as he opened the scoring.
Against Rovers he displayed that delicate touch, skill, positivity and creativity.
If Rangers are unable to agree a new deal, clubs should be lining up for one of Scotland’s best young talents.